What is Syphillis?
Syphilis is a bacterial infection and is usually passed on through having sex with someone who has the infection.
Pregnant women can pass the condition onto their unborn baby, which can cause a miscarriage, stillbirth or birth defects.
It may also be possible to catch syphilis if you are an injecting drug user and you share a needle or other injecting equipment with somebody who has the infection.
The symptoms of syphilis are the same for men and women. These can be difficult to recognise and not everyone will get symptoms.
The symptons of syphilis develop in three stages:
Stage 1 (primary syphilis)- Symptoms of syphilis begin with a painless but highly infectious sore at the site of infection. This may on the genitals or sometimes around the mouth and is known as a chancre. If somebody else comes into close contact with the sore, typically during sexual contact, they can also become infected. The sore can last two to six weeks before disappearing.
Stage 2 (secondary syphilis)- Secondary symptoms, which may include a skin rash, fever, patchy hair loss and development of further chancres may then develop. These symptoms may disappear within a few weeks, after which you experience a latent (hidden) phase with no symptoms, which can last for years.
Stage 3 (tertiary syphilis)- Some people will go on to develop tertiary syphilis. At this stage, it can cause serious damage to the body but can still be treated
What is the Treatment?
Treatment for syphilis is usually a course of antibiotics.
If your test is positive for syphilis you will be asked to attend a sexual health clinic where you will have another blood test to confirm the diagnosis and check whether the infection is an old or new infection